What Are You Laughing At?

The Healing Properties of Humor in the Workplace

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Humor humanizes us.
Humor humanizes leaders.
Humor makes us more relatable to one another. 

When we take opportunities and find reasons to laugh, the air is somehow lighter in the room. The mood is elevated and people instinctively feel more energized. 

Life is serious, of that there is no doubt. And work is serious business. But let’s make this week’s business a little lighter. Challenge yourself and your team to find opportunities to see life and work as bigger than what you’re tackling at the moment. 

As you think about lighting up your presence, and thereby modeling the same permission for others, keep these tips in mind:

1.    Laugh to Release the Pressure – We assess leaders for all types of traits – emotional intelligence, self-awareness, vision, innovation – but we don’t assess for a sense of humor. Yet, leaders who have successfully created resilient teams, that thrive in high-pressure, tense situations, often credit their use of humor to release tensions in the room and spark creativity. The use of humor as a leadership tool requires a fair amount of intelligence (emotional and intellectual) to use it effectively. If done well, it can release the hot air in the room and lighten the atmosphere considerably. 

2.    The Team that Laughs Together, Stays Together – Laughter is good for our health. It creates a sense of well-being and belonging. As Emotional Intelligence guru Daniel Goleman observed: “A leader’s emotional self-awareness, positive outlook, and teamwork play crucial roles in unleashing humor and fun at work…. Teams that laugh together benefit from increased engagement, commitment, and productivity.” When we’re happy, we’re motivated, and when we’re motivated, we’re rockstar performers.

3.    What Are You Laughing At? – What did you laugh at today (or yesterday if you’re just waking up)? If you can’t put your finger on something, you’re definitely not laughing enough. Maybe you’re not releasing enough of your own pressure during the day. Think of laughter as taking a deep breath – instant recalibration and pause. Laughter is like an umbrella – it’s not going to stop the rain, but it allows you to keep walking through it. 

Lightening up tense situations allows us to become more relatable, more “human”, and more accessible as leaders. When leaders smile and laugh they give permission for others to do the same. And isn’t that a great gift to give?

Who are you going to make laugh today?
Which one of you will make me laugh today?!?!? 

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